The early bird gets the worm, right? Yuck. Worms?
Well, okay. Maybe if eating worms was like eating veggie summer rolls. I like to think birds feel about worms and caterpillars the way I feel about summer rolls. Sticky, awkward, crunchy, flavorful, and full of yummy god-knows-what. I mean, sometimes the rice vermicelli even looks like innards to me. Delicious innards that need to be dipped into peanut sauce.
Every restaurant makes their veggie summer rolls a little differently. You can usually be greeted by a fresh roll or two of sticky rice paper tucked neatly around finely shredded veggies like carrot, cabbage, celery, lettuce, or cucumbers (and tofu if you find the right place). If it’s not specifically veggie, you may be getting a roll with pork or shrimp, the traditional ‘other’ ingredients.
The real pleasure is in the fresh herbs that are wrapped into this squishy packet of fun. I’ve never been impressed with fresh mint in a savory dish, but it’s absolutely critical in the flavor balance with the cilantro, and basil–and the scallions, which stick out of the roll on one end like green antennae. And of course a peanut dipping sauce brings an earthiness to the fresh, herby roll.
I rarely ever pick up my summer roll and pretend it’s a caterpillar with green scallion antennae. I promise. I think The Man would stop taking me out in public if I did that too often.
We generally go to either if the Ichiban Sushi places here in town, or to either of the Chopstix (but they’re a little clunkier there). But the absolute best, if you’re ever in Tampa, is Trang Viet Cuisine.
Trang is a little hole-in-the-wall storefront in a sketchy neighborhood. The décor is reminiscent of low-budget prom. It hardly looks like much when you walk in. It’s one of those places that are so good, you only tell friends about so that it doesn’t get too crowded. They have a really good veggie selection, including a platter that had two each of four kinds of rolls (including summer rolls) and complimenting dipping sauces. We waddled out of there that day, let me assure you.
I’m linking to another blog here for Vegetable Spring Rolls with Peanut Dipping Sauce on Two Peas & Their Pod (the names spring/summer rolls can get swapped back and forth apparently). I want to go back and try the recipes for myself and this is easier than bookmarking them. So if you try the recipes, let me know if they’re any good, m’kay?
And while you’re there, follow their link through to the next blog WhiteOnRiceCouple.com for some disgustingly gorgeous food pics.
Trang Viet Cuisine
1524 E Fowler Ave
Tampa, FL 33612